In our third entry discussing slow medicine, we explore compromise or “the second station of later life.” For an elder, changing circumstances make the station of compromise a vulnerable time. “My Mother, Your Mother” author Dennis McCullough believes the Station of Compromise is the time when careful attention and intervention can make the greatest and longest-lasting difference.
Put Yourself in Their Shoes
Slowly join your parents’ conversations with their doctors.
Don’t turn to pills first. Realize that medications may alleviate some issues but still have consequences.
Don’t be afraid to ask for a diagnosis in “plain English.”
Be aware of subtle changes in behavior or lifestyle.
Change Your Approach
Use holistic methods to improve an elder’s health such as diet, rest, exercise, social engagement, and spiritual practice.
Be a witness instead of taking over. Give your aging parents time to explore their approach to a new situation.
Build understanding and trust before bringing up your concerns.
Build Your Team
Don’t wait until an emergency to meet an elder’s friends and support system.
Find a physician willing to be the “go-to” doctor for guidance when you find medical care is becoming impersonal.
Use older grandchildren as advocates and observers.
Take advantage of the time before a medical crisis to speak with your siblings about shared care.
Be Proactive with Care
Avoid “fast medicine” by asking a doctor for more time, or leave a list of concerns for future visits.
Encourage coordination of care by using professionals such as geriatric care managers.
Monitor medication and educate yourself about interactions.